Social connections play a major role in health, survival, and fitness. In this talk, I will present results from animal behavior and cognition studies with lemurs and ravens, with the goal of addressing the causes and the consequences of individual variation in social connections. I will propose that there are dynamic relationships between social connections and information transmission, and that these dynamics are driven by selective attention and selective communication between group members. These dynamics have the potential to change our understanding of social evolution, including how selection acts on behavior, and how sociality influences population-level processes such as the spread and the persistence of novel behaviors in animal groups. *Biography* I am a biologist who is driven by the desire to understand animal behavior by exploring their social behavior, communication, and cognition. I earned my Bachelor of Science degree in Biological Sciences with honors from Stanford University, my Master of Science from the University of Arizona, and my Ph.D. from Princeton University. After obtaining my Ph.D., I completed a postdoc at University College Cork and I am now at the University of Notre Dame. I enjoy pursuing question-driven research, and this approach has allowed me to work with a wide range of taxa including insects (bumblebees and butterfly species), birds (Florida scrub-jays, ravens, crows, great tits, blue tits, and peacocks), and mammals (ring-tailed lemurs, savannah baboons, rhesus monkeys, and wolves) in multiple continents including Africa, Asia, Europe, and North America. In addition to animal behavior, I am completely fascinated with astronomy and astrobiology, and was a research associate at SETI Institute and NASA Ames Research Center. Also, I am the founder and the editor of “Animal Cognition Network”, which includes an extensive bibliography of scientific evidence on animal minds and emotions. My interests include spending time with animals, nature and wildlife photography, equestrian sports, and outdoor sports. More information can be found on my website.
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